A lot has happened in Guild Wars 2 since its launch over three years ago. We’ve seen two Seasons of Living World content, changes and additions to sPvP and WvW, and a recent transition to free-to-play. As substantive as these features may be, they none of them can match up to the hype and scope of a canonical expansion, which ArenaNet is poised to deliver with Heart of Thorns.
The Bellevue-based developer has a strong precedent with expansions - the original Guild Wars saw no less than three, in the forms of Factions, Nightfall, and Eye of the North. None of these compares to the size of Heart of Thorns, however, and most of us have been waiting on something more than story and content updates for quite some time.
There’s obviously a lot to be excited about, as the feature list for Heart of Thorns is summarily impressive, including the new Maguuma Jungle region, Guild Halls, Stronghold PvP, a new WvW Borderlands map, Raids, and more. Yet, the most intriguing additions are perhaps the new ways to create and customize your characters with the Revenant profession, Mastery System and Specializations.
If Factions and Nightfall can serve as examples, new classes are par for the course for the series’ expansions, and the Revenant seeks to add a completely novel experience to the Guild Wars 2 lineup. A heavy armor-wearing damage dealer, the Revenant draws upon the legends of Jalis Ironhammer, Mallyx the Unyielding, Ventari, Shiro Tagachi, and Glint for its healing, utility, and elite skills. Particularly interesting is the Revenant’s elite specialization in the form the Herald, which is mirrored by the other professions in the Berserker (Warrior), Chronomancer (Mesmer), Daredevil (Thief), Dragonhunter (Guardian), Druid (Ranger), Reaper (Necromancer), Scrapper (Engineer), and Tempest (Elementalist).
Additionally, Heart of Thorns will bring the Mastery System to the table, geared towards giving high-level players a new form of horizontal character progression. More than being simply a collection of unlockable stat bonuses, the Mastery System is based in goal-oriented progression through 39 tiers within 7 different tracks. The rewards from these tiers range from learning to hang glide through the Maguuma Jungle and equipping new combat abilities to attuning with new ally races and crafting your own legendary weapon.
Of all of the additions coming with Heart of Thorns, I’m most excited for the new Specializations and Masteries, although I’m sure I’ll devote a healthy amount of attention to the new PvP modes and the Revenant. I’m a big fan of the story and open world content in Guild Wars 2 and have played long after hitting the level cap, but I’m looking forward to trying something new with my current professions. Who knows - the expansion might just be the kick in the pants that I need to go back and level the alts that are taking up all of my character slots!
Are you playing Heart of Thorns? What are you most looking forward to checking out?